Snacking between meals is usually associated with poor food choices and obesity, but choosing healthy snacks can help you lose weight, burn more fat and even curb your appetite. Fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds provide a low-calorie, high-nutrient boost for dieters between meals. With a little creativity, you can combine one or more healthy foods into a delicious, fat-burning snack. Try these 14 healthy snacks for weight loss.
1. Bananas and Peanut Butter
For enough protein to keep you going all day long, and carbs for a quick burst of energy, dip banana slices (or a whole banana) in peanut butter. A medium banana has 105 calories, and is loaded with fiber, potassium, Vitamin C and energy-spiking Vitamin B6. Researchers have found that peanut butter makes dieters feel full, curbing their desire to overeat. If you’re out of bananas, you can dip apple slices in peanut butter or spread it on Wheat Thins or whole-wheat bagels.
Eating a snack containing peanut butter or peanuts can stop hunger cravings for up to two and a half hours! A tablespoon of peanut butter has 90 calories and contains antioxidant-rich Vitamin E, magnesium for bones and Vitamin B6 to boost energy and immunity. And peanut butter provides monounsaturated fats – the “good” fats that promote heart health and help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Choose low salt, low sugar or organic peanut butter over popular supermarket brands to avoid extra calories.
2. Greek Yogurt with Walnuts and Apple Slices
A cup of Greek yogurt with sliced apples and walnuts is a low-calorie breakfast or anytime healthy snack for weight loss. Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier than regular yogurt. It’s packed with probiotics to keep you regular and Vitamin B12 for energy and better brain function. One cup fat-free Greek yogurt is 120 calories. Add apple slices for their freshness, fiber and high Vitamin C content, and sprinkle on crushed walnuts to provide crunch, antioxidants and heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids.
3. Plain Popcorn with Cayenne Pepper
Make plain, air popped popcorn or pop on the stove using olive or canola oil. Avoid butter, salt, caramel and other high-calorie flavorings. Instead, sprinkle popcorn with fat-burning cayenne pepper or nutty-tasting nutritional yeast (which has plenty of Vitamin B12). A single cup of air-popped popcorn has a mere 31 calories, and 3.6 grams of fiber. It also has mood-enhancing magnesium and Vitamin B6, plus iron to help your body make healthy red blood cells.
4. Oatmeal with Blueberries
Fiber-rich oatmeal regulates blood sugar and fills you up to prevent you from overeating at the next meal. A cup of plain oatmeal has 166 calories and is high in potassium and calcium. Add fresh blueberries for sugar-free sweetness and plenty of inflammation-fighting Vitamin C. One ounce of blueberries has 16 calories and contains potassium, manganese and heart healthy Omega 3 fatty acids.
For more nutrients,use groats instead of oatmeal. Whole oat groats contain B-vitamins, magnesium, selenium, potassium, zinc and copper. They are unprocessed and contain the whole unhulled grain. Whole oat groats take much longer to cook than steel-cut or rolled oatmeal - an hour or more, but the extra time is well worth it for the health benefits. Groats help protect against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. You can find groats at some health food stores.
5. Dark Chocolate
You don’t have to give up chocolate to lose weight. Trade in sugar and preservative-laden milk chocolate bars for unsweetened dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth. Dark chocolate is actually good for you! It has healthy fats, which prevent the insulin spikes that harm your body’s ability to burn fat. A study conducted at the University of Copenhagen indicated that eating a small amount of dark chocolate on regular basis curbs your appetite and reduces the desire to eat sugary, salty or fatty foods.
Keep a bar of dark chocolate with you for a mid-afternoon snack. One ounce of dark chocolate has 155 calories, much less than gooey milk chocolate concoctions. Dark chocolate contains iron, magnesium, potassium, fiber and a small amount of Vitamin B12. Full of polyphenols and other cell-protecting antioxidants, dark chocolate (in small amounts) will help you burn fat and keep you healthy. For best nutritional value, buy organic dark chocolate with a 70% or higher cocoa content.
6. Kale Chips
It’s easy to make your own crunchy kale chips. Cut kale into small pieces and remove the stems. Wash and dry with a salad spinner. Sprinkle with your favorite seasoning (sea salt, cayenne pepper, 21 seasonings blend, etc) and olive oil. Bake on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350 degrees until crisp.
With only 100 calories per 3.5 ounces, grapes are healthy snacks for weight loss. They fill you up fast due to their water content. Grapes offer many phytonutrients and antioxidants to prevent inflammation and disease. Quercetin, catechins, resveratrol and beta-carotene are just a few of the nutrients available in different grape varieties. Grapes are high in Vitamin K (necessary for bone health and blood clotting),potassium and energy-producing Vitamin B2.
Choose from green, red or blue/black grapes. You can store grapes in the fridge for up to a week or freeze them for a treat during hot summer days. Eat grapes plain, in a fruit salad with sliced melons, apples and berries, or with yogurt.
Like grapes and other fruits high in water, peaches fill you up without adding many calories to your daily total. A small peach has 38 calories, and is a great source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and fiber. Peaches have free radical fighting antioxidants to help prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes. They also contain selenium, a mineral that guards against cell damage. The beta-carotene in peaches keeps your skin glowing and may guard against age-related vision loss. Eat a fresh, juicy peach as a snack or add sliced peaches to oatmeal or cereal. Mix peach cubes or slices with other fruits to make a salad or add to yogurt.
9. Trail Mix with Seeds, Nuts and Dark Chocolate Chips
You can lose weight and boost energy by making your own trail mix. Choose from the following healthy ingredients:
- Sunflower Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Dark Chocolate Chips
- Sesame Seeds
- Preservative and sugar-free dried fruit
- Plain, air-popped popcorn
Nuts and seeds are loaded with antioxidants, fiber, Vitamin E and protein. A quarter cup of walnuts has 113% of the daily recommended value of heart-healthy Omega 3’s and 51% of a day’s manganese. Cashews and sesame seeds are high in copper, magnesium, manganese and zinc. Sunflower seeds are high in magnesium, energy-producing Vitamin B6 and iron.
Always use plain, unprocessed nuts and seeds. Include more seeds and nuts than dried fruits, which can dramatically increase calories if used to excess. Combine all items in an air tight container (or Ziploc bag) and shake until well-blended. Store in a cool, dry place.
Always keep servings to a quarter-cup. Mindlessly munching trail mix (like anything else) will disrupt your diet.
10. Hard Boiled Egg with Cayenne Pepper
Eggs aren’t just for breakfast. They’re one of the most nutritious healthy snacks for weight loss. A large, hard boiled egg has 77 calories, 6 grams of protein and branched chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) to build muscle. And eggs have four B Vitamins for increased energy and enhanced mood - folate, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B2 and Vitamin B5. Eggs are one of the best sources of choline, a nutrient that is essential for cell membrane signaling and neurotransmitter synthesis.
Boil a few eggs to pack in your lunch or snack on during the week. Spice up hard boiled eggs by sprinkling them with cayenne pepper. This hot flavorings contain capsaicin, a fat-burning compound found in chili peppers. The capsaicin helps curb your appetite so you won’t be tempted to eat too much later in the day. For lunch or dinner, add a few hard boiled egg slices to salads or make a sandwich with capers, parsley, garlic, bell pepper and hard boiled egg slices on a whole wheat roll.
The seaweed used to wrap sushi does more than hold your spicy tuna roll in place. Seaweed contains alginate, a substance that may reduce fat absorption in the gut by 75%, according to a study by Newcastle University in the UK. Seaweed’s high in iodine, which contributes to better thyroid function. The thyroid helps regulate weight, mood and metabolism, so it’s important to eat foods that keep it healthy. You can buy seaweed (or seaweed chips to snack on) from an Asian market or health food store. Major supermarkets do carry seaweed snacks, but be sure to check the label for additives and other undesirable ingredients.
Try making your own seaweed chips using nori sheets, sesame oil, garlic and cayenne pepper. Add seaweed to salads or soups - or mix with kale chips for a crunchy, nutrient-rich treat. And you can’t beat the calorie count – two tablespoons of kelp seaweed is 4 calories; 2 tablespoons of wakame seaweed sets you back 5 calories, and a tablespoon of spirulina seaweed is 20 calories.
12. Black Beans with Salsa in a Corn Tortilla
If you like Mexican food and want to lose weight, you don’t need to miss out on some of your favorites. Black beans are high in fiber and a half-cup has only 109 calories. A small corn tortilla is 63 calories and a tablespoon of salsa is 4 calories. Put them all together for one of the best healthy snacks for weight loss. A black bean and salsa taco is filling enough to stop hunger pangs and keep you from snacking on the wrong foods later.
13. Pineapple Pops
Pineapple’s high water content and inflammation-fighting antioxidants make it one of the best healthy snacks for weight loss. A cup of fresh pineapple has 83 calories and 105% of the daily recommended values (DRV) of Vitamin C. Pineapples contain bromelain, a substance containing cysteine proteinases, digestive enzymes that aid the intestinal tract. Adding pineapples to your diet will encourage regular elimination, preventing the sluggish digestion that keeps you bloated and overweight.
Use pineapple chunks in fruit salad along with kiwi, mangoes and other tropical fruits, or combine it with shrimp and grated ginger on romaine lettuce for a refreshing summer appetizer. Squeeze juice from fresh pineapples or use unsweetened pineapple juice to make frozen pineapple pops. Mix the juice from a whole pineapple and lime juice in a blender, then pour into a bowl and stir in almond or coconut milk. Place in popsicle molds and freeze.
14. String Cheese
One serving of string cheese is 80 calories, and it contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which calms you down and helps you get to sleep faster at night. Protein-rich string cheese has no carbohydrates and is portion-controlled and easy to store in your purse or backpack. A 2011 study showed that string cheese and other dairy products are healthy snacks for weight loss programs for premenopausal women.
Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss: More Tips to Stay Slim
- Keep your refrigerator, kitchen cabinets and backpack filled with healthy snacks for weight loss. Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry and always write a list to avoid impulse purchases.
- You’ll be more likely to lose weight if you eat several small meals a day. Many nutritionists suggest eating every three to five hours to prevent the hunger pangs that cause overeating.
- Include foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids (tuna, salmon, walnuts) as healthy snacks for weight loss. Omega 3’s help battle high blood pressure, anxiety and depression. A tablespoon pf plain dried walnuts is only 48 calories, and a cup of drained tuna chunks packed in water of 179 calories – much less than any processed snack from the convenience store.
- Any snack with protein- eggs, turkey, tofu or cheese – contain amino acids to sharpen your mental clarity and improve concentration.
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